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microRNAs play critical roles in the survival and recovery of Caenorhabditis elegans from starvation-induced L1 diapause.

Authors:
Zhang X, Zabinsky R, Teng Y, Cui M, Han M
Affiliation:
Journal:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Abstract

Environmental stresses and nutrition availability critically affect animal development. Numerous animal species across multiple phyla enter developmental arrest for long-term survival in unfavorable environments and resume development upon stress removal. Here we show that compromising overall microRNA (miRNA) functions or mutating certain individual miRNAs impairs the long-term survival of nematodes during starvation-induced L1 diapause. We provide evidence that miRNA miR-71 is not required for the animals' entry into L1 diapause, but plays a critical role in long-term survival by repressing the expression of insulin receptor/PI3K pathway genes and genes acting downstream or in parallel to the pathway. Furthermore, miR-71 plays a prominent role in developmental recovery from L1 diapause partly through repressing the expression of certain heterochronic genes. The presented results indicate that interactions between multiple miRNAs and likely a large number of their mRNA targets in multiple pathways regulate the response to starvation-induced L1 diapause.

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